The Ford Five - Week 4 of the ChaseÂ for the Championship October 4, 2005 Â Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Taurus, heads to his home track as Kansas Speedway plays host to this weekend's stop on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series...
The Ford Five - Week 4 of the Chase for the Championship
October 4, 2005
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Taurus, heads to his home track as Kansas Speedway plays host to this weekend's stop on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series circuit. Edwards, one of the Ford Five, is sixth in the Chase for the Nextel Cup and trails leader Tony Stewart by 100 points. Edwards was this week's guest on the NASCAR NEXTEL teleconference.
CARL EDWARDS - No. 99 Office Depot Taurus
IT MUST FEEL GOOD TO BE HOME THIS WEEK. "Yeah, it's awesome to be back home. I'm just a couple of hours from the race track. I'm not certain if it was 2003 or 2004 that we won that race (Craftsman Truck Series victory in 2004), but it was an awesome win. It meant so much to win that close to home at a track that I didn't every really think I'd get a chance to race at, so I'm excited to go back there in a new Cup car that I just built and hopefully go for the win."
HOW DID YOU THINK THE DRIVING WAS AT TALLADEGA? RUSTY WALLACE SAID HE THOUGHT BUMP-DRAFTING SHOULD BE BARRED AT THE RESTRICTOR-PLATE TRACKS. "The race, to me, seemed awesome. It seemed like everybody did a really good job. The problem with racing like that is it doesn't take much. There are so many factors. You've got momentum and then the aero-push and a little bit of aero-pull from the guy in front of you, and you can see things happen and they happen so quickly you end up hitting a guy. Maybe you meant to hit him just a little bit, but you hit him a little too hard and then there's this massive wreck and everybody points fingers at whoever started it, but, to me, that stuff is going on the whole race. It's just kind of varied amounts of chaos and there's not much we can do about it as drivers. We're placed there with this package and we have to go do the best we can and it takes really close, risky racing to get to the front. I don't know exactly what Rusty Wallace said about the bump-drafting stuff, but I heard a good idea from Darren McDaniel, the guy working on our tires. He said, 'Man, we ought to try to mandate some sort of really fragile front and rear body work - especially the front body work - to where if you bump somebody too hard it would close up your radiator opening or something - make some sort of physical penalty for bumping people.' But even with that, I don't know that all the time you could control what happens, but I think it's just a function of the size of the race track, the banking and the rules package. It's gonna be really tough to get the cars apart."
DID YOU THINK IT WAS GETTING OUT OF HAND? "I thought everybody did a pretty good job. I didn't think it was too out of hand. There were some wrecks that were completely insane there, and I don't know exactly what they stemmed from, but I know from my perspective that I bumped Ryan Newman one time in a manner which I thought was completely OK. I tried to line everything up and just barely touch him, and I did it right in the tri-oval thinking that, 'Well, it won't be that big of a deal,' and Ryan Newman almost wrecked in front of the whole field. I thought to myself, 'Wow, this is really touchy stuff.' I don't know that anyone was really trying to get too wild or too out of hand, but there are just so many variables going on that if everything is just right or just wrong, it's so easy to send a car spinning."
HAS RUSTY WALLACE HAD ANY IMPACT ON YOUR CAREER? "Rusty Wallace is someone a lot like Kenny Schrader, a guy who came from my general geographic area and kind of achieved a dream that me and so many other short-track racers around this area have. All of those guys - Rusty, Kenny, guys like Tony Stewart - guys that came from racing at local dirt tracks and made it helped a lot -- but Rusty Wallace in particular. Him and I had a couple of connections, especially through Mike Mittler of Mittler Brothers Racing. Mike helped Rusty a lot. I heard Rusty Wallace stories, it seemed, like two or three times a week working at Mike Mittler's. I looked at Rusty's picture on the wall every day when I'd walk in the shop, so Rusty's presence was always around, that's for sure."
HOW WOULD YOU SUMMARIZE THE MOOD OF JACK AND YOUR TEAMMATES BEING IN THE TOP 10? "Having all five of our cars in the chase is unbelievable. I don't know if a person were starting from scratch and trying to accomplish that goal, I don't know how much work it would take. It just seems like an insurmountable goal and an unattainable one and Jack Roush has somehow done it. I think everyone around the shop, from what I can see, is really excited about the prospect of one of the cars winning. We have a 50-50 chance statistically and, other than that, everyone has a little bounce in their step and excited to be working on cars at the shop that could potentially be championship winners. After Talladega there were a couple of torn up cars and some bad days for some of the Roush guys, but I think overall the mood is awesome. Everyone is still close enough that any of us could win and I'm just glad to be part of it."
HAS YOUR PERFORMANCE EXCEEDED YOUR EXPECTATIONS? "I think that you hit it right on the head. My performance this year was not at all what we expected, it's what we hoped for. After that first win at Atlanta everything kind of changed. It went from, 'Wow, we would just be super-happy to run in the top five,' to 'Man, winning felt awfully good. We'd like to do it again every week.' So our perspective has changed and our expectations have changed. Overall, this season has been one of just achieving dreams -- winning a Nextel Cup race and being in this chase. We hoped for this and now we've kind of raised the bar for ourselves. As far as other people's perspective and expectations, I don't know exactly what they were. I try really hard just to focus on my own goals and desires. Now we're looking to a championship, which is something I didn't expect to be doing at the beginning of the year."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE DANGERS AND TOUGH PARTS OF THE ATLANTA TRACK? "I think Atlanta, in general, is just so fast that there are so many places things can happen, but I'd say it's off of both of the corners. When you're racing someone real hard, especially off of turn two. There are two really distinct lines in turns one and two. Some people run the very bottom and some people run the very top and late in the run it's really hard sometimes to know whether or not you should give a guy the spot. A lot of times you come off turn two and the car wiggles and moves a little bit more than you want and if somebody is near you or you're racing for a position, it's really easy to get caught up in something right there. So, to me, that's the trouble spot."
DALE JARRETT IS PROBABLY OLD ENOUGH TO BE YOUR DAD AND HE WON THE RACE. WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT? "Age doesn't really mean much when you're out there racing. I've learned that. Kyle Busch is just as tough to race as Mark Martin. It doesn't really matter much what age a guy is. It is kind of interesting the dynamics that go on with such a huge range of age groups and different guys being old enough to be other guys' fathers. I think it was pretty neat to see Dale Jarrett win that race. I know it meant a lot to everyone within the Ford family because of that being a Ford race. I don't know that a Ford was really expected to win, even after the front row was Yates cars and Yates Fords, so I think it was pretty cool to see Dale Jarrett win that race. I grew up watching him and seeing him do that, so it was cool to see it first-hand - right there behind his car."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE ROUSH-YATES ENGINE OPERATION? "I'm not the best guy to speak of the Yates-Roush merger because I didn't get to experience first-hand the engine packages before that. But I can tell you from what I've heard and what I can see with the race results that the engines are awesome. They're spectacular and I couldn't ask for better engines. I don't know exactly how we've improved things or what exactly has changed technically with the engines, but all I know is three or four years ago all I heard was how much power we were short of the other teams. Now, going down the straightaway I never feel like I'm getting pulled by another guy's engine. I guess it's another one of the pieces of the puzzle that I'm really benefiting from - coming at this time when Roush is so strong. The engine package is a huge part of it."
HOW MUCH OF A CHANGE HAS THIS YEAR BEEN? "I'm standing here in Columbia (MO.) right now talking to you, so a lot of things haven't changed, but it definitely is different. It's crazy. So many awesome things have happened. Winning a couple of races. Being in the chase. Going for this championship. All of that is just a dream come true and it's really neat to be able to come back home to Missouri and hang out with my friends. I guess it reminds me of what things were like just a few years ago and how grateful I am to be in this position, so I'm just trying to have a lot of fun with it and not let it really change anything that I do or change me in too many ways. I'm just trying to keep that same hunger and desire to go out and be the best and have some fun, and I've been having a good time with it."
ARE THE DUAL RACES AT DAYTONA A BAD IDEA OR IS IT TOO BIG A PART OF SPEEDWEEKS? "I've only participated in one of those events. If I'm not mistaken, I think I wrecked or got caught up in a wreck, so I don't know. Restrictor-plate racing is a crapshoot and anything can happen. No matter what you do or how hard you try to stay out of trouble anything can happen, so I don't know about those particular races. I think that they're awesome to watch. I think it's a huge part of the year and a huge part of Speedweeks, so from the fans' perspective I hope they never get rid of them. But I think all they can do is focus on this car of tomorrow and maybe some of the promise that it brings to make these restrictor-plate races a little bit safer."
ARE YOU SURPRISED THAT JARRETT AND TODD PARROTT COULD WIN THAT QUICKLY AFTER GETTING BACK TOGETHER ONLY TWO WEEKS AGO? "I don't know. One particular race sometimes, especially a race like Talladega, it's hard to gather a lot from that, but I do believe in chemistry and everyone having the right attitude and people really digging deep to get results. I've spent a lot of time around Brad Parrott and I can tell you that I haven't met very many people that are more hardcore racers and truly care about the sport than Brad Parrott. Knowing him as well as I do and spending just a little bit of time around Todd, I'd have to say that it's probably just a situation where everyone involved just sucked it up and went out and did the best they could and they got the great result. From what I've seen, that happens quite a bit in this sport when things are shaken up and people get the true fire underneath them. You can have some awesome results. I know I'm just happy for those guys and I'm really happy for Todd."
WHY ARE YOU SO COMPETITIVE SO EARLY IN YOUR CAREER? "I really do believe that the main reasons are is it's just the team that I'm with. I'm with the greatest team in motorsports. We talked about the engines earlier - the Roush-Yates engines are awesome. The cars have been developed over the last two decades to be the best that they can be. The management style and the way the teams share information is awesome. I think all of that stuff adds up to the most awesome team I can be a part of and then, for me personally, I just do my very best. I just try my hardest and try to learn from my teammates and learn from my mistakes and we've also had a little bit of good luck, so I think there are a lot of factors. But I think that definitely the biggest thing is the team I'm with has really helped me to speed up my learning curve."
IS THERE MORE OR LESS PRESSURE ON YOU DURING THIS CHASE? "I think as far as outside pressure there's less on us. I don't think anyone expects us to go out and win this championship. That makes it a little more simple to go out and do our best. On the flip side of that, myself and my crew chief, Bob Osborne, and most of the guys on my team, we're real perfectionists and we don't go out here to do what everyone expects us to do, we go out here to win. That's what we do this for and on that note, I can imagine what it would be like to win a championship in your first full year of Nextel Cup racing and just how awesome that would be. That kind of gets me fired up a little bit and that's a little bit of a pressure cooker for me internally and how awesome it would be for me to go out and do this. On this outside I don't feel any pressure, but for me, personally, I'm putting a lot of pressure on myself to go out here and do this."
ARE YOU GOING TO DO A BACKFLIP ON STAGE WHEN THEY ANNOUNCE YOUR NAME AT THE BANQUET? "If I win the championship I probably would do a backflip. I don't know about anything else. The tuxedo shoes are really slippery. I did it at the Truck banquet and I was really fortunate to make it work, so I don't think I'll press my luck."
IS THERE A FEELING AT ROUSH THAT YOU GUYS NEED TO MAKE A MOVE RIGHT NOW? AND WITH ALL OF THESE 1.5-MILE OVALS COMING UP DOES THAT PLAY IN YOUR FAVOR? "That's right on the money as far as how I feel about it. Ryan and Tony, and especially Tony, has been awesome and excelled at every type of race track on the schedule through the second half of the season. I look at our team as a team that can do that, but not for each particular driver. I feel like on the whole, our team, every driver can run well at the mile-and-a-half tracks or the tracks that are kind of that standard shape because we work so hard at that type of race car. I think that making it through these first few races, I can only speak for myself, but I feel like making it through New Hampshire, Dover and Talladega and only being 100 points behind the leader is a home run for me. I feel like coming up on these tracks like Charlotte, Atlanta, Kansas, Homestead - I feel like we can make up a lot of ground at those places and I do feel like this next month or so really plays into Roush Racing's hands."
ARE YOU DISAPPOINTED YOU COULDN'T RUN FOR ROOKIE OF THE YEAR? "I'm not disappointed that we couldn't run for the award. That whole Raybestos Rookie program is awesome to be a part of and it would have been something that I would have been really proud of it we could have accomplished it - to be on my resume. So, in that vein, I wished we could have run for it, but with the rules in place the way they were, it isn't like we ran one or two more races than the seven, we ran 14 races last year so I feel like we were far enough out of the scope of the rule there that we really shouldn't get consideration as far as running for rookie of the year. With the success that we've had this season and the narrow margin with which we made it into the chase, I wouldn't trade those 14 races for anything. They were an awesome experience and hopefully we can make up for it by having an awesome championship run, or try to make up for that glory we would have had racing for rookie of the year."
HAVE THOSE EXTRA RACES LAST YEAR TRANSLATED INTO HOW WELL YOU'VE DONE THIS SEASON? "Oh yeah, it directly translates. The thing about this type of racing is that even if everyone has the same ability level and the same race cars, running more laps at these place and seeing more scenarios take place really helps a guy. So anytime I can get laps and anytime I come back to a track for the second or third time it's just exponentially better and easier and I have a better time dealing with the race track, so I wouldn't trade it for anything."
ANY THOUGHTS OF RUNNING BUSCH AND CUP AGAIN NEXT YEAR FULL TIME? "That's something we haven't quite announced how we're going to do it because I don't think all the sponsorship is in place yet, but my mission is to run both series next year full-time again with the goal being to win both championships. I just think that would be the most awesome achievement that we could have, so I'm gonna go out and do it and try my hardest. I think one way or another, I really hope I'll be in the Busch Series again full time next year along with the Cup Series. It's just fun to race that much."
Bob Osborne has two wins as crew chief of the No. 99 Office Depot Taurus driven by Carl Edwards. He has played a key role in helping his rookie driver make the Chase for the Nextel Cup. Osborne provided Ford Racing with FIVE qualities that make Edwards such a good driver.
Raw Talent - "He just has a strong feeling for a race car. He doesn't have any preconceived notions about certain setups or certain parts of the race car. It doesn't have to be a certain way. He's willing to try anything. With that, he doesn't have a mindset that will lead him down a road that won't allow him to grow."
Intelligence - "He understands the race car. He understands kinematics. He understands dynamics. He understands aerodynamics. You can have an intelligent conversation with him on any topic, not just racing. He understands the race car and how it works."
Patience (with some prodding) - "For the little experience that he has, he doesn't put the car in a situation where he's gonna have a bad outcome - often. He does do it occasionally, but with a little bit of prodding and reminding him about the bigger picture and how easy it is to get in an accident, he keeps his nose clean and stays out of trouble."
Physical Ability - "He's in phenomenal shape. There are very few, if any drivers that are in better shape than him."
No Fear - "It goes back to what I was saying earlier with raw talent. He's willing to try anything new. He's not afraid to experiment. He's willing to try setups that don't run the same line from year to year. We're able to expand our setup repertoire that allows us to have more tools to run better."
"THE FORD FIVE" QUICK FACT:
Ford FIVE drivers Mark Martin, Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch and Carl Edwards have combined to post 43 Top FIVE finishes through 29 races this season. However, did you know that at least two Roush drivers have finished in the Top FIVE a total of 13 times, including six of the last seven races?